🛣️ Headlines About California Highways – January 2019

It’s been a roller coaster month. Heavy rains and sunshine. Roads washing out and being repaired. But it is a new year, and hopefully once we get past the winter, a good one. Here are your headlines for the month:

  • Highway 101 in SLO County CA had big upgrades in 1960s. A quick way to start a heated conversation is to bring up the topic of highway improvements. Unlike water and sewer pipes, which are hidden underground, a highway represents public tax dollars and engineering on display right in front of the windshield. When highways work as planned, they are unmemorable. When we do remember them, it is often because of trouble — from inconvenient waiting in traffic to the tragic aftermath of collisions.
  • 2019 will be a busy year for big road construction projects in Orange County. It will be a busy 2019 for major freeways in Orange County. The 405 Freeway will continue to undergo a $1.9 billion expansion between State Route 73 and the 605 Freeway – adding regular and carpool lanes and widening or reconstructing more than 18 bridges.  Work will continue all year, with completion expected in 2023.  “It has been decades since there has been an expansion like this,” Orange County Transportation Authority spokesman Joel Zlotnik said. “This is the largest (project) that OCTA has undertaken.” Nearly $600 million will be spent on two major projects that will start on the 5 Freeway in 2019: Adding a carpool lane between State Route 55 and State Route 57, and adding a regular traffic lane between Avery Parkway and Alicia Parkway.
  • Discovery: CA 33 actually multiplexed CA 166.. Had an interesting little map discovery today regarding CA 33. It turns out that CA 33 actually multiplexed CA 166 East out Taft starting in 1950 which lasted all the way up the 1964 Highway Renumbering when it was routed to Ventura. The CA 166/CA 33 can be seen on this 1950 State Highway Map:
  • Solano freeway improvements still STA priorities for 2019. The top priorities for the Solano Transportation Authority have a familiar feel. With one critical funding source secured by voters and another approved by voters, the Solano Transportation Authority will move forward on projects that include the Interstate 80/I-680/Highway 12 Interchange, the I-80 express lanes, the I-80 westbound truck scales and the Highway 37 and Solano County Fairgrounds interchange.
  • Paving prompts lane closures along Highway 14. Commuters returning to work for the first time in the new year can expect to face lane closures along Highway 14 beginning Wednesday as Caltrans pursues a long list of paving projects. A check of the Caltrans website devoted to news of the latest lane closures lists scores of paving projects scheduled to begin Wednesday and continue each day and night until Sunday. Road work in both the northbound and southbound lanes of the highway is scheduled to begin at one minute after 9 a.m., according to the schedule. Some of the lane closures will see work crews working overnight and into the early morning hours. On Friday night, for example, paving is expected to shut down two northbound lanes of Highway 14 between Shadow Pines Boulevard at Soledad Canyon Road and Agua Dulce Canyon Road from 11 p.m. until 8 a.m. Saturday. No Caltrans official could be reached New Years Day to confirm the schedule or provide insight into any possible changes made to it.

  • I-210 Pavement Rehabilitation Project Nears Completion. As 2018 comes to an end, so too does the I-210 pavement rehabilitation project in the cities of Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge and Glendale/La Crescenta. Earlier this month crews poured the last amount of concrete on I-210 and began to apply final striping onto the highway.
  • From freeway projects to Rancho Cucamonga expansion plans, here are 5 stories to watch in 2019. #5: The story: From new freeway and rail projects to the battle over the Gold Line, commuters’ lives will be directly affected by area transportation developments.
  • January 2: This Date in Los Angeles Transportation History. 1912:  The California State Highway Commission is founded with the reporting for duty of seven division engineers.
  • Legend of the Ridge Route; a history of crossing the mountains between the Los Angeles Basin and San Joaquin Valley from wagon trails to Interstates. Over the past two decades I’ve crossed the Interstate 5 corridor from Los Angeles north over the Sierra Pelona Mountains and Tehachapi Range to San Joaquin Valley what seems to be an immeasurable number of times.  While Interstate 5 from Castaic Junction to Grapevine via Tejon Pass today is known to most as “The Grapevine” it occupies a corridor which has been traversed by numerous historic highways.  The most notable of these highways is known as the “Ridge Route.”  This article is dedicated to the Ridge Route and the various highways that preceded it.
  • From Roosevelt Highway to the 1: A Brief History of Pacific Coast Highway. Admired for its scenery and dreaded for its traffic — as well as the landslides that occasionally render it impassable — Pacific Coast Highway is perhaps Southern California’s most iconic ribbon of asphalt. Even if Beach Boys-era woodies are now a rare sight, the scenes of crashing waves, surfboards, and palm trees are enough to attract tourists to the road, which connects coastal towns from Ventura to San Juan Capistrano.
  • Granite selected by Caltrans as CM/GC for two multi-million dollar projects. Granite Construction Inc. announced that it was selected by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) as the Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) for the estimated $410 million Highway 101 Carpinteria to Santa Barbara Project, and for the estimated $113 million Cosumnes Bridge Replacement Project in Sacramento County.
  • Alameda Transportation Commission Issues Report. The Alameda County Transportation Commission (CTC) issued a report on projects that they were able to leverage funding in order to improve transportation throughout Alameda County. Projects include State Route 84 (SR-84), which serves as a regional connection between Interstate 580 (I-580) and Interstate 680 (I-680) in Alameda County through the cities of Livermore and Pleasanton and the community of Sunol.
  • Santa Cruz County gets approval for Highway 1 projects. The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission announced the final Tier I & II Environmental Impact Report and Environmental Assessment has been completed and approved for the “Highway 1 Corridor Investment Program.” The Highway 1 Corridor Investment Program is a planning and funding program focused on the section of Highway 1 between San Andreas/Larkin Valley Road and Morrissey Boulevard. The nearly 9-mile long project is looking to ease congestion, improve safety, encourage carpooling and ridesharing, and “promote the use of alternative transportation modes as means to increase transportation system capacity,” according to the 644-page report.
  • California State Route 41; CA 33 north to CA 180/168. Over the past couple years I’ve featured most of the historic alignments of California State Route 41 along with much of it’s modern routing.  One part I haven’t featured yet is the modern path of CA 41 from CA 33 in rural Kings County north to the CA 180/168 freeway interchange in Fresno.
  • Forum on new Gilman roundabouts in Berkeley set for Jan. 15. This month, the community will get its latest chance to offer feedback on plans to build two roundabouts in Berkeley on Gilman Street at Interstate 80 to improve a hairy traffic situation that’s renowned throughout the area. On Jan. 15, Caltrans and the Alameda County Transportation Commission will hold an evening meeting at Berkeley’s James Kenney Community Center, at 1720 Eighth St., to get public input and discuss the project’s environmental documents. The comment period on the environmental analysis and impacts runs through Feb. 5.
  • Caltrans provides update on major local gas tax projects. The controversial SB-1 gas tax is being used to improve the roads you drive every day. Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law April of 2018 and voters knocked down an initiative to repeal the tax during the 2018 midterm elections. Now, the gas tax is bringing in about $5.5 billion every year for California road repairs according to Cal Trans. A Caltrans spokesperson said drivers can already see local improvements with 50 road projects either completed or planned.
  • CalTrans Assessment: Climate change may crack and/or wash out county highways. California’s highways have been ranked as some of the worst in the nation and it’s only going to get worse, according to a recent report released by Caltrans.  The state agency overseeing the highway system in California released its latest Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment on how climate change will affect roadways in the San Joaquin Valley. The report evaluates risks, including extreme temperatures, increased precipitation, storm surge, and wildfire risk on highways within Caltrans District 6, the southern portion of the Central Valley encompassing Fresno, Madera, Tulare, and Kings counties, and most of Kern County. By identifying the possible risks and implications of climate change, the reports seek to guide future planning processes and investments to ensure the long-term future of California’s transportation system.
  • Bill Would Make State Highways–Which Are Often City Streets–Accommodate All Users. Senator Scott Wiener introduced a state bill today that would require Caltrans to incorporate “Complete Streets” design in its highways. That is, it would require the department to consider the needs of all users of a road, including people walking, biking, and taking transit–not just car drivers.

 S.B. 127 is stronger and more thorough than the Complete Streets bill Wiener introduced last year but let die when Prop 6 threatened to disrupt new gas tax revenue.
  • Caltrans completes improvements on HWY 41 in SLO County due to SB 1 funds. Caltrans has completed the resurfacing of nearly nine lane miles of Highway 41 due to the funds from Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.  “Highway 41 is heavily used as a major east-west route for commuters and tourists in northern San Luis Obispo County who frequent the beaches, campgrounds and tourist attractions along the Central Coast. This resurfacing project will ensure a smooth ride and safe commute for everyone,” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman.
  • New lane markings brighten up our state roads: Roadshow. Q: Instead of a complaint about our highways, I would like to submit a compliment. Driving to the Oakland airport the other evening, I was surprised and delighted to see the lane dividers on Highway 24 so visible. It was like flying into an airport at night with the runway all lit up for hundreds of feet. It would be nice if all highways were marked like Highway 24. It would make night driving so much easier and safer. Hats off to the highway crew for doing a great job
  • Bat Infestation Measures to be Installed Near SR-49/108 at Woods Creek Bridge. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will perform one-way traffic control on northbound and southbound State Route 49/108 at the Woods Creek Bridge. This will help prepare the bridge for a project that will apply a polyester-concrete overlay this summer, creating a smooth ride and a smooth transition from the roadway to the bridge. The Woods Creek Bridge is one mile south of Jamestown and just north of Bell Mooney Road. Work is scheduled for Tuesday, January 22, 2019, and Wednesday, January 23, 2019, from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Traffic on the bridge will be limited to one lane and motorists should expect 15 minute delays. Drivers are being urged to take alternate routes whenever possible during these two days.
  • Bay Area policy leaders want big money for new transportation projects. Hold onto your wallets, the folks who brought you the recent $1 toll hike on Bay Area bridges are already testing the waters for a new “mega” transportation measure, somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 billion to $100 billion. And it could go before voters as early as next year. “The idea is put together something that would have a really transformative effect,” Bay Area Council President Jim Wunderman said.
  • American Canyon filling infrastructure gaps. American Canyon is attacking some infrastructure gaps, one by building the Donaldson Way sidewalk project and the other by preparing to build a Devlin road extension. The Donaldson Way project is to provide bicycle and pedestrian improvements between Highway 29 and Carolyn Drive, a distance of about one-third of a mile. The project budget is $635,000 and F. Loduca Co. holds a $530,000 construction contract awarded last summer.
  • L.A. may charge drivers by the mile, adding freeway tolls to cut congestion. For years, Southern California lawmakers have tried to steer clear of decisions that make driving more expensive or miserable, afraid of angering one of their largest groups of constituents. But now, transportation officials say, congestion has grown so bad in Los Angeles County that politicians have no choice but to contemplate charging motorists more to drive — a strategy that has stirred controversy but helped cities in other parts of the world tame their own traffic.
  • Managed Lanes deal not done. New offers, demands and concerns are surfacing by the week as local policymakers work out the owner/operator arrangement for the express lanes planned for the San Mateo County section of Highway 101. And the back-and-forth is picking up as a deadline looms that, if not met, will add time and cost to the $514 million project aiming for completion by the middle of 2022.
  • Presenting the 91 Express Lanes Annual Report. Now online, the 91 Express Lanes Annual Report for 2018 showcases a year of innovation and exceeding expectations. In 2018, customers enjoyed their first full year of 18 miles of free-flowing reliable travel thanks to the 8-mile Riverside County extension completed by the Riverside County Transportation Commission the year before.
  • 405 Improvements Continue into 2019 and Beyond. Nearly one year ago, OCTA broke ground on the largest freeway construction project in its history. The $1.9 billion I-405 Improvement Project is adding one regular lane in each direction between Euclid Street and I-605, and a second lane in each direction in the center of the freeway from SR-73 to I-605 that will combine with the existing carpool lanes to form the 405 Express Lanes.
  • Big changes coming at I-880 and Industrial Parkway: Roadshow. Q: My commute takes me through the ramp from Industrial to northbound Interstate 880 in Hayward. Since the repaving, morning commute traffic backs up all the way onto Industrial. It can take often 10 minutes to get on the freeway, and there’s not a lot of traffic on the freeway. Was there a change in the metering light timing, or could there be a sensor issue? Would love to know.
  • Marin transportation board seeks third westbound lane for Richmond-San Rafael Bridge traffic. Pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to call a new westbound lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge their own by April or May, but local transportation officials are hoping vehicle traffic will be able to access this new third lane sooner than planned to relieve congestion for morning commuters. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, or MTC, and its associated Bay Area Toll Authority intended for this new pedestrian-bike lane on the upper deck of the bridge to be a four-year pilot project. But the Transportation Authority of Marin is seeking to cut that trial period down to six months.
  • Paving project to close lanes on I-505 between Vacaville, Winters. A paving and roadway rehabilitation project will close lanes starting Wednesday along Interstate 505 between Interstate 80 in Vacaville and Putah Creek Road at the border of Solano and Yolo counties near Winters, the state Department of Transportation reports.
  • Upgrades planned for Avenue R.  The city of Palmdale has been awarded a $5.2 million transportation grant from the state to pay for construction in a project that will provide significant improvements to a stretch of Avenue R between Sierra Highway and 25th Street East. The grant funds are part of Caltrans’ Active Transportation Program, a competitive process to award state and federal grant funds for transportation projects that encourage walking and biking in conjunction with vehicle traffic.
  • On 10 Freeway, cheaters and solo drivers clogging ExpressLanes may prompt big changes from Metro. To reduce traffic, LA Metro has tried costly freeway lane additions, building more carpool lanes and converting HOV lanes into toll lanes. Some changes have worked for a short while but ultimately, like new lanes on the 405 Freeway, traffic flow returns to gridlock status with commuters languishing in what Los Angeles Mayor and Metro board member Eric Garcetti calls “soul-stealing commutes.” On Thursday, Jan. 24, the Metro board will vote on development of a pilot program that will allow only five-person cars or vanpools to ride toll free on the 10 Freeway ExpressLanes.
  • Belmont weighs in on Managed Lanes. As San Mateo County officials continue to weigh owner/operator options for the Managed Lanes project, the Belmont City Council offered its perspective at a meeting Tuesday after receiving an update on the project and decision-making process. There are three options on the table for who should own and operate the tolled express lane facility planned for the San Mateo County stretch of Highway 101. Two of those options offer local control while the third offers regional control, as it’s often described.
  • Project to reduce highway traffic begins in Martinez. Work began this week to widen a four-mile stretch of Highway 4, a project that transportation officials say will help reduce traffic and improve safety at its intersection with Interstate 680. The project will entail adding a third lane in the east- and westbound directions between Morello Avenue in Martinez and Highway 242.
  • Interstate 680/State Route 4 Interchange Improvement Project breaks ground. The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announced the start of construction on the first phase of a multi-phased project to improve safety and help reduce congestion at the Interstate-680/State Route 4 Interchange in central Contra Costa County. The initial phase of construction involves widening a four-mile segment of State Route 4 in both directions between Morello Avenue in Martinez and State Route 242. This phase of work also involves the replacement of the Grayson Creek Bridge to bring it up to current State bridge safety codes.
  • Caltrans Construction Update on State Route 140 Ferguson Fire Scar Rehabilitation Work from Briceburg to Yosemite National Park in Mariposa County. The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is continuing work on an emergency project that is rehabilitating and repairing eastbound and westbound State Route 140 (SR-140) from Briceburg to Yosemite National Park. The work is needed after the Ferguson Fire burned through the region in summer 2018. The project includes the replacement and repair of culverts (underground drainage systems), removal of potentially hazardous trees and branches, and implementing slope stabilization measures.
  • First Segment of Interstate 680/State Route 4 Interchange Improvement Project Breaks Ground. The Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) announced the start of construction on the first phase of a multi-phased project to improve safety and help reduce congestion at the Interstate-680/State Route 4 Interchange in central Contra Costa County. The initial phase of construction involves widening a four-mile segment of State Route 4 in both directions between Morello Avenue in Martinez and State Route 242.  This phase of work also involves the replacement of the Grayson Creek Bridge to bring it up to current State bridge safety codes.
  • Woods Creek Bridge work to temporarily exclude Yuma myotis bats. Motorists can expect delays next week on northbound and southbound Highway 49/108 at Woods Creek Bridge, where Caltrans workers plan to install temporary measures to prevent bats from roosting under the bridge or inside crevices on the bridge during a repave project planned this summer.
  • Officials reach Managed Lanes deal. Local officials are one step closer to picking the owner and operator of the Managed Lanes project and the preferred arrangement would ensure local control is retained. Local control in this context means the City/County Association of Governments and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority would both own the tolling facility coming to the stretch of Highway 101 in San Mateo County and the Bay Area Infrastructure Financing Authority would operate it.
  • Upcoming road work on State Route 156, Highway 101. Caltrans issued recent advisories on upcoming work on State Route 156 and Highway 101 that could effect San Benito County commuters. An overnight embankment repair and drainage improvement project on State Route 156 between the Geil St. Pedestrian Overcrossing and Cathedral Oak Rd. in the Oak Hills area (between Castroville and Prunedale) is expected to begin Tuesday night, Jan. 29, between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. (the next morning), Caltrans officials have announced. All roadwork is expected to be completed by mid-February, weather permitting.
  • Historical Maps | Nevada Department of Transportation. Historical State Highway Maps: Click on the year to open a map
  • Officials seek faster Richmond Bridge bike lane trial. The Transportation Authority of Marin’s Board of Commissioners will send letters to state and Bay Area transportation agencies requesting they consider a shorter trial run for a proposed bike-pedestrian lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. A third westbound lane set to open in April or May was proposed to be a four-year pilot project in which only pedestrians and cyclists could access the lane.
  • Here are the four new refined concepts for Sepulveda Transit Corridor. Four refined concepts (above) have been released for the Metro project that will build a fast, high-capacity transit line between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside through the Sepulveda Pass. Three of the four are heavy rail — i.e. the type of trains used on Metro’s Red/Purple Line subway  — and the other concept is a monorail.  The refined concepts are part of an ongoing Feasibility Study for the Sepulveda Transit Corridor project, which has nearly $10 billion in funding from Metro’s Measure R and M sales tax measures approved by L.A. County voters in 2008 and 2016, respectively. Here is a new presentation; many of the slides are included in this post.
  • Romero Canyon, Toro Canyon Bridges Reopened in Montecito. Caltrans has re-opened the Romero Canyon Creek Bridge (PM 10.92) and the Toro Canyon Creek Bridge (PM 12.49) on State Route 192 as of Wednesday, Jan. 30, at 3 p.m. These bridges were rebuilt following the debris flows and flooding last January.

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